Resbeeratrol: I’ll drink to that

Yeast has taught us a great deal about the mechanisms of aging. But what about using yeast to fight the aging process itself?

A group of young scientists is trying to genetically engineer brewer’s yeast to make resveratrol, an antioxidant compound that activates sirtuins and may or may not extend mammalian lifespan (link):

A team of researchers at Rice University in Houston is working to create a beer that could fight cancer and heart disease. Taylor Stevenson, a member of the six-student research team and a junior at Rice, said the team is using genetic engineering to create a beer that includes resveratrol, the disease-fighting chemical that’s been found in red wine.

This isn’t the usual sort of thing we cover at Ouroboros. It’s a pre-pre-publication story from a decidedly non-scholarly source (ComputerWorld); and the article itself was written for such a general audience that it’s impossible to tell exactly what’s being done. Furthermore, the piece makes some bizarre claims (emphasis mine):

The students, using their own Dell, Lenovo ThinkPad and Gateway laptops, are now in the process of developing a genetically modified strain of yeast that will ferment beer and produce resveratrol at the same time. Stevenson said that as the research advances, the team will need to use one of Rice University’s computer grids to run compute-heavy genetic models.”

Really? What possible ramification of expressing a few synthases in yeast could require so much power that the researchers need to turn to grid computing? Ah well, these are the foibles of the lay press. And, possibly, the foibles of telling reporters from tech magazines the sort of thing they want to hear so that they cover your honors project.

In any case, you heard it here first. Watch your supermarket shelves for MGD: Miller Genetically-engineered Draft.



  1. The students will not be allowed to sell that beer or make a commercial profit from it. They should have done a thorough search for freedom to operate before starting such a project. The idea with a resveratrol producing brewer’s yeast is already patented technology!

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